Jonathan Blow

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Jonathan Blow (2008)

Jonathan Blow (* 1971 ) is an American game programmer and developer . He gained notoriety as the creator of the game Braid , which was released in 2008 and was very well received by the critics.

For many years he wrote a column for Game Developer Magazine . He is the main host of the Experimental Gameplay Workshop every March at the Game Developers Conference , known for new ideas in computer games . Blow is also a regular at the Indie Game Jam and a co-founder of the Indie Fund, which is an indie game development fund.

childhood and education

Blow says that he cut the cord from his parents in his early elementary school years. His mother was a former nun who kept reminding him of the imminent arrival of Jesus and who in her mid eighties disowned his older sister because of her homosexuality. Blow's father worked full time as a military service provider and spent his evenings alone in his study, where no children were allowed. Blow said in an interview with The Atlantic , "Early on, I detected that there weren't good examples at home, so I kind of had to figure things out on my own ... I had to adopt a paradigm of self-sufficiency."

Blow studied computer science and creative writing at the University of California, Berkeley , and was chairman of the Computer Science Undergraduate Association for one semester. In 1993 he left the university one semester before graduation.

In San Francisco he had various technical positions until he founded the game design company Bolt-Action Software with Bernt Habermeier at the age of 24. The company went bankrupt after 4 years with a debt of $ 100,000.



In December 2004, inspired by a trip to Thailand, Blow developed a prototype for a platformer where you can influence the time. The demo had immature graphics but did allow the player to rewind all objects on the screen to an earlier point. Encouraged by the feedback from his colleagues, Blow worked on the game called Braid from around April 2005 to around December of the same year until the final prototype was completed. This version won the 2006 Independent Games Festival Game Design Award at the Game Developers Conference .

He continued to work on the game, focusing primarily on the design and music, and fine-tuning the game design until it was released on Xbox Live Arcade in 2008 . By then, Blow was in debt with $ 40,000 and had already invested $ 200,000 in developing the game.

The game was released on August 8, 2008, received critical acclaim and was a financial success. An average rating of 93% on Metacritic makes it the top rated Xbox Live Arcade game. Braid sold more than 55,000 times in the first week. Blow recalled that before that he had received no money until the day he saw the many zeros in his bank account.

The Witness

The Witness , announced in 2009 and released on January 26, 2016, is Blow's latest work. It is a puzzle game in the first-person view in which a stranded on an island player tries to solve various puzzles maze. As with Braid, Blow has invested his own money, reportedly $ 2-3 million.

The first public preview material caused sobering reactions, as it was assumed that the game is only about solving simple labyrinth puzzles. Blow responded to these statements by saying that the preview material does not reflect the entire scope of the solution process, which, as in the previous game Braid , takes place in the player's head. He said, "I wouldn't make a game about solving a series of red puzzles."

In the preview of the Witness (often at noisy conventions), Blow let journalists play the game in a quiet setting, according to the mood of the game. There was praise for the preview of the game, in particular Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku called it “an exercise in symphonic game design.” The Witness has been released for PlayStation 4 and Windows / Mac so far .

Other work

In March 2010, Blow, together with other independent game developers such as Ron Carmel and Kellee Santiago, founded the Indie Fund, which is a fund for the development of indie games.

In 2012 Blow was one of the protagonists in the independent documentary Indie Game: The Movie , where he talked about the role of indie games from his point of view and about the work on Braid .

In late 2014, he also started developing a new programming language called Jai [dʒeɪ].

Philosophy and views

Blow has already spoken several times about his views on independent computer games in interviews or public lectures. He received praise for his sometimes controversial views, he is seen as "the kind of right rebel video games need" and "a spiritual seeker, questing after truth in an as-yet-uncharted realm."

Blow often talks about the potential of computer games to be more than a game. He says he's trying to make games that are more adult for people with longer attention spans, noting that games could play a much bigger role in culture in the future. However, current games would not exploit this potential, but only aim at low risk and high profit. Blow, who used to study physics, also explained that games can study the universe in a similar way that physicists can.

Regarding the development of his games, Blow said at the Playstation Experience that he prefers to keep them playable and only improve them. This was mentioned by Blow on a live broadcast while Justin Massongill was playing a demo version of the Witness .

Blow has spoken out against some games because of their immoral game design. He called World of Warcraft unethical, as it is the cause of social problems by conveying a wrong picture of the meaning of life. He called FarmVille "inherently evil" because the game design reveals the developers' goal to reduce the quality of life of the players.

Despite Braid's great success on the platform, Blow mentioned that developers are turning away from the platform through Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade certification process. He said, "they kind of make themselves a pain in the ass," that would cause them to lose market share on Steam .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Is Braid pretentious? Creator Jonathan Blow answers his critics. In: GamesRadar. August 9, 2011, accessed June 18, 2014 .
  2. a b c d e f The Most Dangerous Gamer. The Atlantic, accessed October 4, 2012 .
  3. Jonathan Blow: California Dreamin ' , (Czech)
  4. Jonathan Blow (person). Giant Bomb, accessed June 18, 2014 .
  5. Ellie Gibson: GDC: Braid cost 200k to make, says Blow., March 25, 2009, accessed June 18, 2014 .
  6. Stats: The First Week of Braid., August 13, 2008, accessed June 18, 2014 .
  7. GameSpy: Johnathan Blow Announces New Game - Page 1., accessed June 18, 2014 .
  8. Ben Kuchera: The PA Report - Jonathan Blow is betting $ 2.5 million you'll like The Witness as much as Braid., accessed June 18, 2014 .
  9. Jonathan: About the Blue Mazes. October 19, 2010, accessed May 10, 2014 .
  10. Alex Rubens: The Witness for Xbox 360 - Preview - The Witness Preview - How to Unbraid Modern Game Design., March 15, 2012, accessed June 18, 2014 .
  11. ^ GDC: Witnessing Jonathan Blow's The Witness. Destructoid, accessed June 18, 2014 .
  12. 3/15/12 8:00 pm 3/15/12 8:00 pm: Jonathan Blow's The Witness is an Exercise in Symphonic Game Design., accessed June 18, 2014 .
  14. Jonathan Blow, Opinionated Creator of Two Video Games, is 'Attempting to be Profound' be-profound
  15. Stephen Totilo: Jonathan Blow, Opinionated Creator of Two Video Games, is 'Attempting to be Profound'., accessed June 18, 2014 .
  16. Jonathan Blow on the future of video game industry. CBS , August 13, 2012, accessed August 13, 2012 .
  17. IndieCade 2011: Jonathan Blow & Marc Ten Bosch on YouTube
  18. = Joey Davidson: Hands-on with The Witness on PS4. In: . September 28, 2011, accessed May 20, 2015 .
  19. MIGS 2007: Jonathan Blow On The 'WoW Drug', Meaningful Games. Gamasutra, accessed June 18, 2014 .
  20. Jonathan Blow interview: Do you believe social games are evil? "Yes. Absolutely." PC Gamer, September 28, 2011, accessed June 18, 2014 .
  21. Interview: Jonathan Blow - Xbox Live Arcade 'A Pain In The Ass' For Indies. Gamasutra, accessed June 18, 2014 .